Union leaders considering lawsuit in BTC sale dispute

Friday, January 7, 2011

The battle continues between the Bahamas government and unions representing workers at state telco BTC, with the groups' leaders reportedly in talks with a legal team to file suit against the government, newspaper The Tribune reported.

The suit would be filed against the government in an attempt to block the US$210mn sale of 51% of BTC's shares to the UK's Cable & Wireless Communications (C&WC). The unions are against the sale - which they fear could lead to the laying off of 30% of the workforce - and instead would like the government to find a Bahamian consortium to purchase BTC.

According to one of the groups' leaders, Bernard Evans, the unions have met with legal representatives, and although nothing is finalized, they are prepared to take whatever steps necessary to keep the state telco from being privatized.

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"Anything that we can do to stop the sale, within the law, we will do," Evans was quoted as saying.

At the same time, the newly formed Bahamas consumer advocacy group, CVB, issued a statement in support of the sale and the opening of the telecoms market. The group said that with more competition, citizens would see reduced cell rates and cell phone costs, and also possibly more jobs.

According to CVB, users in the Bahamas pay some of the highest prices in the region for cell phone minutes and devices.